People from across the U.S. have filed lawsuits over several models of Smith & Nephew’s hip-replacement implants. About 130 of those lawsuits have been combined in a major federal litigation and more lawsuits are expected to be added to it.
If you had a Smith & Nephew hip replacement and suffered from one of the following complications, you may be entitled to compensation.
Number of Lawsuits 131
Plaintiff Injuries Loosening, dislocation, metallosis, additional surgeries
Defendants Smith & Nephew
Bellwether Trial Date Not yet scheduled
MDL Location Maryland
Class-Action Status None
Litigation Status Early stages, lawsuits still being filed
Top Settlement $28.9 million
People have reported higher-than-normal adverse events with several Smith & Nephew hip implant models. In 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combined several lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) hip implants in a Maryland federal court.
Smith & Nephew issued a field-safety notice on its BHR implants in 2015, saying the devices posed a risk of dislocation, fractures and other complications that could require surgery to correct. In addition, the UK-based company recalled its R3 Acetabular Hip Systems in 2012 and its Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision in 2016, over issues serious enough to spark more potential lawsuits.
Lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s BHR hip implants are in the very early stages. There have been no trials, verdicts or settlements in the BHR cases yet. Attorneys are still taking cases and considering options for people affected by Smith & Nephew’s Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision Femoral Hip following recalls of those devices in 2016.
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The first 28 lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) hip implants were combined in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Maryland federal court in April 2017. As of February 2018, a total of 131 lawsuits had been included in the MDL.
MDLs allow consolidating several similar lawsuits to pool resources and reduce duplication. This allows lawsuits to move more quickly through the legal process.
Smith & Nephew hip implants named in lawsuits have been the subject of recalls or reports of serious complications such as loosening, fractures or the need for revision surgery. At least five models have been the subject of individual lawsuits since 2013.
|Smith & Nephew Hip Model||Problems Reported|
|Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) System||Infections, fractures, dislocation, metallosis, pseudo-tumors and other issues requiring revision surgery|
|R3 Acetabular System||Reports of loosening, pain, device failure, infection, metal sensitivity and dislocation associated with the device|
|Modular SMF||“Higher than anticipated complaint and adverse event trend”|
|Redapt Revision Femoral System||“Higher than anticipated complaint and adverse event trend”|
|Emperion Hip System||Reports of failures resulting in fractures and need for revision surgery|
People who have filed hip replacement lawsuits against Smith & Nephew claim the complications they suffered were due to the devices’ design.
The implants named in lawsuits are metal-on-metal hips. That means a metal ball fits into a metal socket to form the replacement joint. Wear caused by these two metal parts rubbing against one another releases microscopic amounts of metals that can lead to serious complications from damage to the body to implant failure.
People who have filed lawsuits over Smith & Nephew hips claim the company designed and marketed defective implants when they should have known about problems with their products.
While Smith & Nephew settled some of the individual lawsuits over the R3 Acetabular Hip System, other lawsuits remain in the early stages of a national litigation.
The MDL in Maryland involves lawsuits from across the U.S. and has the potential to include a large number of new lawsuits in the months to come.
Timeline of Smith & Nephew Recalls and Lawsuits
S&N recalls 4,000 R3 Acetabular Hip Systems in the U.S. after reports of failures and complications
First lawsuits over S&N R3 Acetabular Hip Systems are filed, S&N quietly settles most R3 cases
S&N recalls 2,000 Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision Femoral Hip Systems
S&N annual report shows the company set aside $203 million for lawsuits it expected be filed against the company
S&N annual report lists $147 million in liabilities for claims against the company's metal-on-metal hip replacements
8 people injured by S&N hips ask a federal panel to combine their lawsuits into an MDL
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combines 28 lawsuits over the Smith & Nephew BHR system into an MDL
Smith & Nephew MDL included 131 lawsuits
In 2007, Smith & Nephew paid $28.9 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve an alleged kickback scheme in which it paid doctors to use its products.
In 2014, Smith & Nephew settled another case with the federal government for $11.3 million. The “whistle-blower” lawsuit claimed the company had sold Malaysian-made implants to the U.S. government while claiming the devices were made in America.
There are currently no class action lawsuits over Smith & Nephew hip implants. Problems with medical devices are usually handled through individual lawsuits.
If enough people file lawsuits over similar problems, their attorneys will sometimes seek to have the cases combined into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDLs, like class actions, allow plaintiffs to combine their resources. They also have other benefits in medical device cases.
Some Differences between MDLs and Class Action Lawsuits
|Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)||Class Action Lawsuits|
|U.S Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determines if several, similar lawsuits can be combined in a single MDL||Court considers “class certification” to determine if lawsuit can be a class action|
|MDLs can only be tried in federal courts (though some states have similar consolidated lawsuit methods||Class actions can be filed in state or federal court|
|Each plaintiff is likely to see very large settlements or verdicts if they prevail in court||Amount of any potential award must be so small it would not be worth pursuing an individual court case|
|Settlement amounts or jury awards may vary depending on the plaintiffs’ individual injuries||Everyone who joins the class action receives a proportionate share awards or settlements|
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
Chris Elkins is a writer and researcher for Drugwatch.com. He’s worked for various newspapers and has writing experience in sports, health communication and public relations fields. He graduated from the University of West Florida with a master’s degree in Strategic Communication and Leadership, a graduate-level certificate in Health Communication Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
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